As a TPM consultant in continuous process manufacturing, working closely with storeroom and purchasing leadership has been essential in determining the criticality of each of plant asset and deciding which critical spares to keep in inventory in the storeroom. Maintaining OEE through availability and running at optimum process speed is essential for profitability but so is having the lowest value possible of parts in inventory. Too often I see say 5 years-worth of bearings or couplings on a shelf when at the same time the maintenance manager is struggling to find budget to buy some other component or service.
RFID allows warehouse operators to conduct more inventory transactions with the same or less labor input. This allows for improved inventory visibility and optimization. However, like everything else in life, it comes at a cost. If you’re planning to implement RFID, it should be part of a long-term vision that takes advantage of the improved inventory transparency and accompanied with a commitment to the resources necessary for its successful implementation.
You want me to forever question your moral compass? Tell me you don’t mind doing year-end inventory. Tell me that the thought of 12-hour days endlessly counting and re-counting doesn’t send a cold shiver down your spine, and I’ll show you a person who has lost all ability to tell the truth, even to themselves! In a time where no one can agree on anything, it’s nice that at least those of us who make our living making things can be united on one thing: we all share a deep and abiding hatred for the annual year-end inventory.
When the time comes to specify replacements for mechanical power transmission couplings, it’s human nature to take the easy path…simply find something similar (if not identical) to the coupling that failed, maybe apply a few oversizing fudge factors just to be conservative. Too often, however, this practice only invites a repeat failure…or more costly system damage.
To manufacture products on such a large scale means stocking a lot of equipment to maintain the operation. Fort Saskatchewan plant in Alberta, Canada, Roy Lura, process leader, estimated an inventory of more than 15,000 pieces of equipment. Until recently, however, there was no way to adequately track the items. With the help of a barcode-driven tracking system, this has changed.
Proper planning and control of spare parts inventory is a critical component of an effective asset management program. If the right parts are not on hand when needed for routine maintenance or repairs, downtime is prolonged. If too many parts are on hand, the enterprise absorbs excessive costs and the overhead of carrying the inventory.
A custom blueprint for streamlining internal processes, Lean has helped to increase production at many plants. Except, all too often, these plants don’t enjoy the maximum return on their investment. This is because managers often limit their Lean implementations to production-related processes. Such applications provide only a fraction of the benefit Lean is designed to offer and often deprive plants of achieving the true potential for growth and development.